A determined Italian outfit turned the tide on two-straight defeats at the hands of the Jayco Australian Opals on Sunday morning, with a 16-point victory.
The Italians showed their intentions from the opening minutes of the match, racing away to a 23-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Italian captain Raffaela Masciadri dominated, shooting 6 from 8 downtown as they prepare for EuroBasket.
“They jumped us at the start and then controlled the momentum from the beginning of the game,” said Opals coach Brendan Joyce. “We tried to make a couple of runs and we played hard but we didn’t really execute offensively consistently.
“Our defence wasn’t as good as it has been the previous two games.”
The Jayco Australian Opals clawed their way back into the game, out-scoring the Azzure 16-15 in the second but couldn’t quite make up the early deficit.
Suzy Batkovic led the way for the Australians with a double-double (team-high 14 points, 11 rebounds) while a fierce Tessa Lavey again shot her way into double figures with 11 points and four steals.
“Italy wanted to win a game and gave it everything on their home court and played well – you have to give them credit,” said Joyce.
The Opals leave Italy with two victories over the Azure within the three-game series, held over a gruelling three days.
After a few days rest, the Jayco Australian Opals will regroup and head to Spain, for their next match, scheduled for Saturday morning Australian time. Ranked third in the world just behind Australia, the Opals won’t be expecting any favours, with Joyce mindful of the bigger picture, the Oceania Championships in August and getting his younger players as much experience as possible along the way.
“We’re going to have to play as well as what we did against Serbia in the 8-point loss and the first two games against Italy in order to compete with Spain,” said Joyce. “It will be a great experience for the younger players playing Spain at home at full-strength.”